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Scientists return from Arctic with wealth of climate data

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BERLIN (AP) — An icebreaker carrying scientists on a year-long international effort to study the high Arctic has returned to its home port in Germany carrying a wealth of data that will help researchers better predict climate change in the decades to come.

The RV Polarstern arrived Monday in the North Sea port of Bremerhaven, from where she set off more than a year ago prepared for bitter cold and polar bear encounters — but not for the pandemic lockdowns that almost scuttled the mission half-way through.

“We basically achieved everything we set out to do,” the expedition’s leader, Markus Rex, told The Associated Press by satellite phone as it left the polar circle last week. “We conducted measurements for a whole year with just a short break.”

The ship had to break away from its position in the far north for three weeks in May to pick up supplies and rotate team members after coronavirus restrictions disrupted carefully laid travel plans, but that didn’t cause significant problems to the mission, he said.


“We’re bringing back a trove of data, along with countless samples of ice cores, snow and water,” said Rex, an atmospheric scientist at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Ocean Research that organized the expedition.

More than 300 scientists from 20 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China took part in the 150-million-euro ($177-million) expedition to measure conditions in one of the most remote and hostile parts of the planet over the course of a whole year.

Much of the information will be used to improve scientists’ models of global warming, particularly in the Arctic, where change has been happening at a faster pace than elsewhere on the planet.

As part of the expedition, known by its acronym MOSAiC, the Polarstern anchored to

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“We must act now” on climate

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“Science tells us, every day with more precision, that urgent action is needed—and I am not dramatizing, this is what science says—if we are to keep the hope of avoiding radical and catastrophic climate change,” he told an audience today at the launch event for TED Countdown, a new global initiative to accelerate climate action. “And for this, we must act now. This is a scientific fact.”

The pope, who recently published a new encyclical arguing for social unity, believes that we need to start with education about environmental problems based on science. We need to ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sustainably produced food. And we need to transition to clean, renewable energy, with a focus on meeting the needs of the poor and people who have to move to new jobs in the energy sector.

Businesses also need to consider their impact on both the environment and humanity, he said, and one way to encourage this is by investing in companies that “put sustainability, social justice, and the promotion of the common good at the center of their activities.”

“The current economic system is unsustainable,” he told the digital audience. “We are faced with the moral imperative, and the practical urgency, to rethink many things: The way we produce; the way we consume; our culture of waste; our short-term vision; the exploitation of the poor and our indifference towards them; the growing inequalities and our dependence on harmful energy sources. We need to think about all these challenges.” All of us, he says, need to work to “persuade those in doubt, imagine new solutions, and commit to carry them out.”

The economy could be based on what the pope calls “integral ecology,” with the ultimate goal of protecting the well-being of humans and our common

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Without nuclear power, the world’s climate challenge will get a whole lot harder

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The Covid-19 crisis not only delivered an unprecedented shock to the world economy. It also underscored the scale of the climate challenge we face: Even in the current deep recession, global carbon emissions remain unsustainable.



a sunset in the background: White steam billows from the Cattenom nuclear power plant, at sunset in Cattenom, eastern France, on June 2, 2020. - Cattenom is the ninth largest nuclear power station in the world. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BERDA / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN BERDA/AFP via Getty Images)


© Sebastien Berda/AFP/Getty Images
White steam billows from the Cattenom nuclear power plant, at sunset in Cattenom, eastern France, on June 2, 2020. – Cattenom is the ninth largest nuclear power station in the world. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BERDA / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN BERDA/AFP via Getty Images)

If the world is to meet energy security and climate goals, clean energy must be at the core of post-Covid-19 economic recovery efforts. Strong growth in wind and solar energy and in the use of electric cars gives us grounds for hope, as does the promise of emerging technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture. But the scale of the challenge means we cannot afford to exclude any available technologies, including nuclear power — the world’s second-largest source of low-carbon electricity after hydropower.

The power sector is the key to the clean energy transition. It is the single largest source of global emissions because most electricity is generated from fossil fuels. By significantly expanding the amount of electricity produced from low-carbon sources, we can help to reduce emissions not only from power generation, but also from sectors like transport, where low-carbon electricity can now fuel cars, trucks and buses.

This is a major undertaking. Low-carbon electricity generation will need to triple by 2040 to put the world on track to reach energy and climate goals. That is the equivalent of adding Japan’s entire power system to the global grid every year. It is very difficult to see how this can be done without a considerable contribution from nuclear power.

Nuclear power generated a near-record amount of electricity

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Climate patterns linked in Amazon, North and South America, study shows

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amazon rainforest
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

University of Arkansas researchers have established a link between climate patterns in the Amazon and large parts of North and South America using their newly developed tree-ring chronology from the Amazon River basin.


The discovery helps researchers better understand large-scale climate extremes and the impact of the El Niño phenomenon.

Tree growth is a well-established climate proxy. By comparing growth rings in Cedrela odorata trees found in the Rio Paru watershed of the eastern Amazon River with hundreds of similar chronologies in North and South America, scientists have shown an inverse relationship in tree growth, and therefore precipitation patterns, between the areas. Drought in the Amazon is correlated with wetness in the southwestern United States, Mexico and Patagonia, and vice versa.

The process is driven by the El Niño phenomenon, which influences surface-level winds along the equator, researchers said. El Niño is the name given to a large-scale irregularly occurring climate pattern associated with unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean.

“The new Cedrela chronologies from the Amazon, when compared with the hundreds of tree-ring chronologies in temperate North and South America, document this Pan American resonance of climate and ecosystem extremes in the centuries before widespread deforestation or human-caused climate change,” said Dave Stahle, Distinguished Professor of geosciences and first author of a study documenting the findings in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Credit: University of Arkansas

The connection was not documented until researchers at the University of Arkansas Tree Ring Laboratory, along with colleagues from Brazil and Argentina, developed rainfall reconstructions from growth rings in Cedrela trees. Most rainfall records in the Amazon only date back about 70 years, but Cedrelas live for 200 to 300 years, providing valuable rainfall proxies that pre-date human-influenced climate change. Their work in the Amazon is documented

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Climate change threatens Coachella Valley, Palm Springs tourism, study says

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Climate change threatens Coachella Valley, Palm Springs tourism, study says
Climate change threatens Coachella Valley, Palm Springs tourism, study says

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of the most famous music festivals in the world and is also amongst the most profitable, grossing an impressive $114.6 million in 2017, which set a record for the first recurring festival franchise to earn over $100 million. Coachella, Stagecoach and the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament are attractions that have drawn millions to the Coachella Valley over the years, but scientists warn that this could change as extreme heat becomes a dangerous reality.

The Coachella Valley is a desert region in southern California with virtually zero annual rainfall and an annual average temperature of 22.8°C, which makes it a desirable destination for those seeking year-round warmth. While this region hosts world-renowned events and is unlikely to lose popularity anytime soon, a study warns that rapidly rising temperatures are threatening the thriving tourism industry.

The study was published in the journal Climatic Change and found that in the Coachella Valley, the number of days above 29.4°C between November and April will increase up to 150 per cent by 2100. The researchers say that weather and climate are important factors that tourists consider, so they divided their findings of future impacts to the region’s tourism industry into three categories: winter snowbird season, outdoor tourist attractions, and annual festivals.

“Although tourism is a significant economic driver [in the Coachella Valley], little is known about how global warming will affect tourism at these locations,” the study states. Tourism is the primary source of revenue for the Coachella Valley, which is why the study’s projections are particularly foreboding.

coachella wikimedia commons credit: Jason Persse
coachella wikimedia commons credit: Jason Persse

Sunset over the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 21, 2012. Credit: Jason Persse/ Wikimedia Commons.

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